Hmm. So hard to decide. Do these kids deserve a time out? Or a felony conviction?

A Playground Fight? Now You’re a Felon, Kid

Aiden punched Noah because Noah wouldn’t let him on the slide! Ooh! Now what?

Well, if this took place in Missouri, at recess, Aiden could be heading to jail.

In an era when we have finally come to realize that zero tolerance policies and the school-to-prison pipeline are permanently damaging kids by saddling them with criminal records and churning them through the justice system, Missouri is going the opposite direction. Starting this year, KFVS reports, a new statute increases the punishment when students get into a fight:

The change means that if your student is caught fighting once they return back to school, they will get jail time.

Right now, if a student gets into a fight and hurts another person, they’re charged with a misdemeanor and then released to their parents.

However, with the new law going into effect on January 1, that student will now head to a juvenile detention center and be charged with a Class E felony.

That means they could spend up to four years in jail.

Four years! That certainly is the state stepping up to help its troubled students! Fox2Now reports that the new laws will felonize third and fourth degree misdemeanors. What does that mean, exactly? Fox quotes one school district’s website, which says:

“Student(s) who are caught fighting in school, bus or on school grounds may now be charged with a felony (no matter the age or grade level), if this assault is witnessed by one of the School Resource Officers/police officers (SRO) or if the SRO/local law enforcement officials have to intervene.”

KVFS interviewed Sergeant Jon Broom of the Sikeson (“A great place to live, work, play!”), Missouri, Department of Public Safety who said he hopes this new rule will have exactly the effect on kids that we almost never see on any other humans itching for a fight: They’ll stop and consider the long-term consequences of their impulsive actions.

“A felony down the road is something that will definitely hamper you down the road for sure,’ Broom said.”

Um. Yes. That’s exactly why we don’t want 16-year-olds — or 6-year-olds — getting felony convictions for a fight at school.

Missouri is the “Show Me” state. Show Me any evidence that this law helps, rather than hurts, the young people it is ostensibly aiming to assist. – L.

.

Do these kids deserve a time out? Or a felony conviction? (Photo: Aislinn Ritchie

.

, , , , ,

60 Responses to A Playground Fight? Now You’re a Felon, Kid

  1. Workshop January 9, 2017 at 10:43 am #

    If children understood the consequences of their actions, they’d never pitch a fit about eating vegetables.

  2. Daniel DuBois January 9, 2017 at 10:50 am #

    I’m sure this will be totally evenly applied to both white and black children.

  3. Dan January 9, 2017 at 10:58 am #

    Prehaps they should just install the electric chair directly in the school premises, after all you can’t tolerate any dissent whatsoever when it comes to children!

  4. Dienne January 9, 2017 at 11:39 am #

    “Student(s) who are caught fighting in school, bus or on school grounds may now be charged with a felony (no matter the age or grade level), if this assault is witnessed by one of the School Resource Officers/police officers (SRO)….”

    Simple, just make sure no SRO/police officer witnesses it. That’s the problem with all forms of punishment – it puts the focus on the consequence for the offender, which just gives the offender more incentive not to get caught. It doesn’t teach the offender anything about the wrongness of their behavior, just how to be sneakier about it next time.

  5. Backroads January 9, 2017 at 12:01 pm #

    “”They’ll stop and consider the long-term consequences of their impulsive actions.””

    Impulse. That’s the key word here.

    Sure, you might give more weight to high school seniors who are for all intense and purposes adults, but young kids who are still learning to control impulses?

    What might be interesting is when this conflicts (and you know it will) with a kid with documented behavioral/emotional problems. Ooh… you just punished a kid for a medical problem.

  6. That mum January 9, 2017 at 12:02 pm #

    Help me out here, are they actually saying a kindergartener could be charged with a crime? I’m Canadian and you have to be 12 here for that to happen, even in a case of murder.

  7. David January 9, 2017 at 12:07 pm #

    The juvinile courts need to disregard this law.

  8. Shelly Stow January 9, 2017 at 12:14 pm #

    Grown men — and sometimes women — aren’t able to stop and consider the consequences of their actions in the heat of anger that precedes a fight, and they expect six-year-olds to do it?

  9. James Pollock January 9, 2017 at 12:17 pm #

    I’ve seen some school fights that would (and should) qualify as felonies.

  10. John B. January 9, 2017 at 12:29 pm #

    I’d like to know what elected official in Missouri dreamed up this piece of legislation. Now I certainly do not condone fighting on the playground BUT you know, kids are kids and it happens. When two 11-year-old boys (or girls for that matter) get into a playground scrap, what is wrong with handling it the old fashion way?? Give’em detention, deny them recess privileges for a month, etc. but goodness, a felony conviction? Please!

    Heck, during the mid-60s, when I was in grade school, it wasn’t uncommon for 2 boys to get into a tussling match on the playground and SOMETIMES (I emphasize sometimes) even blood was drawn. But the nuns would use good’ole fashion conflict resolution to resolve the matter. Then the next day, the two brawlers were once again best friends.

    If I said this once, I’ve said it a thousand times and I’ll say it a thousand more times, we Americans (well not me) OVER react to EVERYTHING! Then we pass more laws that only serve to cause more collateral damage than they’re worth.

    So what’s next, three-year-old kids finding themselves in small claims court for writing on the wall with a purple crayon?

    Again, I don’t condone fighting BUT it’s apparent that the softening of American youth continues.

  11. david zaitzeff January 9, 2017 at 12:31 pm #

    There are several issues here. What is happening is that 3rd degree and 4th degree assault are being made into felonies for everybody. In Washington state, for example, 3rd degree assault is a felony and 4th degree assault is a misdemeanor.

    3rd degree assault as defined in Washington state law should be a felony. 3rd degree assault is either an assault using a weapon or an assault resulting in substantial pain.

    4th degree assault as defined in Washington state law is questionable as a felony. 4th degree assault includes a guy patting the butt of a woman in public. Of course, there are schools in which this happens and there have been schools in which it was a form of flirting. At a playground at a park or at recess, pushing someone could occur in a disagreement. Pushing someone is sometimes the start of a fight but it does not seem to justify a felony charge.

    There are probably some 4th degree assaults which should be felonies and others not.

    As for kids, the articles do not distinguish between getting into fights, starting an unjustified fight and defending yourself when threatened or attacked.

    There are kids and there are teens who have swung skateboards at other people and done serious damage to them.

    It seems to me that using fists, hands or legs in a way that knocks someone to the ground or causes a need for medical care should be a felony. Knocking people to the ground has killed some people.

  12. Kimberly January 9, 2017 at 12:32 pm #

    My daughter was diagnosed with amblyopia in her right eye in the 3rd grade. It is/was so bad she had something like 200/20 vision, making her legally blind in that eye. Fortunately, it was treatable. All she had to do was wear an eye patch over her good eye for 3 hours a day when doing homework and watching TV. She didn’t have to wear it at school at all. She’s 15 1/2 now and is still legally blind in that eye because she refused to wear the patch. Yeah, I totally think kids are completely capable of critically examining long term consequences.

  13. EricS January 9, 2017 at 12:38 pm #

    Wow. Society and authorities are getting dumber and dumber. Kids disagree, and they fight. This has been going on since, well…childhood was created. Now you a kid can go to jail for fighting? Sheeeeeet! Why do we even have laws that supposed to protect under aged kids. Why not just get rid of it, and charge kids as adults. Because this is pretty much what that is.

    Now I don’t condone fighting, but unless the kid doesn’t take a gun, a knife, or any weapon to school to do damage, wrestling, punching or kicking shouldn’t be an indictable offense. This completely just sets up children to fail. I absolutely guarantee, that white children and colored children will be treated differently in these situations. Much like things are today with youth and adults. Just another tool for systemic segregation.

    Back in the day, when kids got into fist fights, the parents got together and made them apologize to each other. In fact, the kids I got into fights with in school, ended up being some of my closest friends to this day. We need to teach our children to work out their problems with others, not incarcerate them for being children who fight because they don’t know any better, and have (biologically) no impulse control. We were all like this. And it’s science that proves this. Why punish kids when they can’t control themselves? Teach them so they learn to. Prison time does not help. Especially for children. They will just get even more messed up.

  14. Nicole R. January 9, 2017 at 12:49 pm #

    This is nuts! They’re little kids.

    I cannot believe that the same society that thinks kids are not responsible enough to walk down a sidewalk without a parent until they’re 12 thinks they ARE responsible enough to understand and consider the lifetime implications of a felony conviction when they’re 6.

  15. Backroads January 9, 2017 at 12:55 pm #

    “”I cannot believe that the same society that thinks kids are not responsible enough to walk down a sidewalk without a parent until they’re 12 thinks they ARE responsible enough to understand and consider the lifetime implications of a felony conviction when they’re 6.””

    Yes!

  16. Andrea January 9, 2017 at 1:04 pm #

    “I cannot believe that the same society that thinks kids are not responsible enough to walk down a sidewalk without a parent until they’re 12 thinks they ARE responsible enough to understand and consider the lifetime implications of a felony conviction when they’re 6.”

    Our society seeks to make criminals out of certain groups of people (and these groups of people are getting larger, not smaller, so if you think you are demographically “safe,” you may be today, but not necessarily tomorrow given the direction we’re heading (see, e.g., feudalism)).

    If you think of society through this lens, everything being done is very consistent.

  17. Ausitn January 9, 2017 at 1:29 pm #

    Need to read this post regarding this law: http://reason.com/blog/2016/12/30/missouri-law-school-fights-felonies

    In some ways this is actually reducing the cases of a schoolyard fight becoming a felony compared with current laws, where any “assault” on school property, however minor, is automatically a felony. While I usually agree with Lenore, after reading more into this, this particular piece is fear-mongering just as much as the stupid laws that get passed about kids in cars. Let’s be part of the solution, not the problem. While I don’t completely like this new law, it seems like it might be better than what was previously on the books. minuscule progress is still progress.

  18. Gina January 9, 2017 at 1:41 pm #

    This cracks me up. My five kids never fought at school, but among each other it was another story. Imagine if this was the law…I’d have 5 felons, instead of 5 upstanding adults!

  19. Stacey Gordon January 9, 2017 at 1:48 pm #

    Which also means if you raise your hands to defend yourself, you are going to jail as well, as KI don’t recall the schools ever distinguishing the person who started the fight,from the person who defended themselves. (or was being bullied and finally took a stand)
    when I was in school, both parties were automatically suspended, regardless of circumstances.

  20. BL January 9, 2017 at 1:57 pm #

    @Stacey Gordon
    “Which also means if you raise your hands to defend yourself, you are going to jail as well, as KI don’t recall the schools ever distinguishing the person who started the fight,from the person who defended themselves. (or was being bullied and finally took a stand)
    when I was in school, both parties were automatically suspended, regardless of circumstances.”

    It’s worse than that. I’ve heard of people – no, I actually KNOW people – who were charged with “participating in a fight” when their participation consisted on being sucker-punched and knocked unconscious without even a chance to fight back. In a school, of course.

    And now they can be felons. Oh, joy.

  21. JL January 9, 2017 at 2:34 pm #

    Schools are already like prisons, so they might as well give the students an actual criminal record.

  22. James Pollock January 9, 2017 at 2:42 pm #

    “Which also means if you raise your hands to defend yourself, you are going to jail as well”

    Criminal law, unlike zero tolerance administrative punishment, still recognizes “defense of self and others” as a legal defense against liability for violence.

    This trend will eventually run into another current trend, the increasing decriminalization of the use of firearms (see, for example, the recent spread of “stand your ground” laws). The obvious conclusion will be the eventual elimination of fistfighting… because the fistfight has been totally replaced by pistol duels.

    (Except, of course, that sometime in the next ten days, Obama will finally get around to coming for all the guns…)

  23. lollipoplover January 9, 2017 at 3:05 pm #

    One of my daughter’s classmates is going through a tough time now (parents divorcing and shuffled between 2 new houses) and has acted out physically (she plays a game where she *tasers* her friends but poking them hard in the stomach with a pointed finger). Not surprisingly, no one wants to play with her and have told her to stop. She did get to the point where she wasn’t being invited anywhere and the mom asked me if there was a problem (no one told the school, the kids wanted to work it out themselves). I told the mom what her kid was doing and that I would want to know if my kid was doing this, too (truth).

    There is no such thing as a bad child.
    They are all imperfect and will have moments where they make bad decisions or act irrationally. Mistakes are learning experiences. Physical altercations happen because of an inability to control emotions. Toddlers sometimes bite because they can’t use words to express themselves. Young children can punch or lash out in frustration or extreme emotion because they haven’t learned to coping mechanisms and how to walk away and not engage. A tween girl who is having a rough patch can poke her friends and not realize she’s being an assh*le and needs to learn to play more gently. She’s not a bad kid, she’s learning.
    We have to help these kids and not turn lock them up and throw away their future. What happened to “It takes a village”? Is it replaced with building walls and jails?

  24. Eyes Rolling January 9, 2017 at 3:28 pm #

    “People read the initial draft of the new criminal code and perceived there was a potential felony charge for students who get into a fight at school ―when they read it that way, they said, ‘Well this is something new,’” said Haahr. “The truth is that’s always existed.” – Let’s all thank state Rep. Elijah Haahr for this important clarification that there actually was an opportunity to fix the existing criminal code but the Legislature didn’t.

  25. donald January 9, 2017 at 3:52 pm #

    I was in the hardware store the other day. I saw another zero tolerance device. A mousetrap will spring down on anything that trips it. In my childhood, my pet hamster escaped from its caged and was killed in the trap!

    Emotion has millions of years of evolution behind it. This doesn’t work well with zero tolerance. This is especially true with a young and still developing brain.

    “They’ll stop and consider the long-term consequences of their impulsive actions.” It sure will. That’s why children don’t sext anymore. They don’t use their phone to distribute child pornography.

    People (especially kids) have a hard time holding bake their actions. However, their is another group that has trouble holding back their actions.

    Bureaucrats were put in place to address a problem. They did their job and so the problem went away. Unfortunately the bureaucrats can’t help but to keep implementing rules and procedures regardless of how senseless they are. This is the same as a compulsive hand washer. Even though the germs are gone, the hands still get washed.

  26. JND January 9, 2017 at 3:58 pm #

    What else do you expect from pigs?

  27. donald January 9, 2017 at 3:59 pm #

    If the bureaucrats with a college education can’t control their actions, how do they expect children with divorcing parents to be able to do so?

  28. Dean January 9, 2017 at 4:57 pm #

    Zero tolerance has been drifting too far for a long time.
    The consquences weren’t quite so bad when my boy was a third grader. He was punched, knocked down, and kicked by a trio of bigger, older boys on the schoolyard. Like them, he was suspended for three days because it was detemined under the school’s zero tolerance rules that by putting his hands up to protect his face while on the ground, he had entered “mutual combat”.

  29. donald January 9, 2017 at 5:01 pm #

    People that can’t control their actions suffer the consequences.
    Bureaucrats that are unable to control themselves don’t have to face the consequences. They draw a pension instead.

  30. Papilio January 9, 2017 at 5:14 pm #

    “They’ll stop and consider the long-term consequences of their impulsive actions.”

    Ehm, no, they don’t. They are kids. They’re still learning (which is also why they go to school in the first place).
    This is like expecting kids to take high school final exams, ‘no matter the age or grade level’.

    Anyway, do follow Austin’s link! According to that piece, it’s not what we fear.

  31. SanityAnyone? January 9, 2017 at 5:52 pm #

    Has anyone read the teen Unwind series? This is one step less than what happens in the books. The pro-life and pro-choice camps finally go to war because they have hated each other fire so long, though the original reason why is almost forgotten. Finally, they sign a devil’s compromise in which human life is protected from conception to 13. At that time until age 18, parents may choose to retroactively abort a troubled or inconvenient teen by having them unwound. But it’s not “death” because all parts must be used for tissue transplants. They are not dead but living in a divided state and “helping” humanity. Of course, a thriving marketplace arises around this, incentivizing parents to unwind kids. Unwanted kids raised by the state are naturally warehoused and then available to unwind The society slowly comes to accept every new outrageous law and bias as normal, and protects the new system, even feeling self righteous about it.

    This news reminds me so much of the story. Young teens are damned for making mistakes and sent away, their futures ruined, instead of being valued and coached. Teens starting out with disadvantages end up far more likely to be outcast. I highly recommend the series and strongly condemn the law. I think almost every guy I know threw a punch, sometimes in self defense, in junior high.

  32. James Pollock January 9, 2017 at 6:40 pm #

    “Bureaucrats were put in place to address a problem. They did their job and so the problem went away. Unfortunately the bureaucrats can’t help but to keep implementing rules and procedures regardless of how senseless they are.”

    You’re confusing the bureaucracy, which didn’t make this change in the law, with the legislature, which did.

    Structurally, the point of a bureaucracy is to make as many decisions as possible in advance, so they can be applied equally and fairly to all. Zero-tolerance policies have a similar genesis… when the discretion in how to apply discipline is highly discretional, a pattern emerges… academically and athletically-gifted students receive preferential treatment for their infractions relative to the average student, and minority students tend to receive substantially worse treatment. By removing discretion in applying punishments, you remove that disparity amongst your student population. To the minority kids, it basically amounts to no change… they were getting severe punishments for whatever infractions they made before, and they’re getting the “zero tolerance” punishment now, so it’s same s(tuff), different day. But the privileged white kids, who used to get preferential treatment, now do not.

    Note that this is NOT a “zero tolerance” policy… it applies to cases that create substantial injury or involve the school resource officers (cops)… which were going to result in criminal charges before, as well. Claiming that this rule change could result in 1st-graders with criminal records is a bit alarmist… juveniles of that age go to family court to be judged juvenile delinquents or not, they don’t go to criminal court to be judged felons or not. Now, the kids old enough to be charged as adults have something to think about… but that’s nothing new, being in a fistfight that caused substantial injury could get you charged with a felony before, if you were old enough to be charged with felonies.

    “The consquences weren’t quite so bad when my boy was a third grader. […] he was suspended for three days…”
    Your kid got a raw deal. Mine only got 1 day of suspension for threatening to kill another little girl in her first-grade class.

    “Has anyone read the teen Unwind series?”
    I haven’t, but the idea you describe is not new. Starting in the late 60’s, Larry Niven suggested in his novels that as the demand for healthy organs for transplant grew, people in power would create increasingly more crimes that carried a death penalty, with the condemned feeding the demand for transplanted organs.

  33. C. S. P. Schofield January 9, 2017 at 8:01 pm #

    The imbeciles in charge of primary education in this country abdicated all resposibility for actually TEACHING anything decades ago (and are outraged – OUTRAGED! – the people think poorly of them thereby). In recent years they have been working on reducing their responsibility to parents to a non-binding agreement to not actually spit-roast the kids. This is just another step in their plan to never do a lick of work again.

    Why anyone who isn’t getting campaign donations for these people is willing to tolerate their existance baffles me.

  34. Ellenette January 9, 2017 at 9:31 pm #

    Totally absurd. We’re now demanding that young children have 100% of the life knowledge and impulse control of mature, responsible adults? Just how do we propose they’re going to gain that knowledge and impulse control if not through making a few mistakes and learning from their experiences? The people putting these ridiculous provisions in place–trust me–were not born perfect. They were kids once. They picked fights. They had their out-of-perfectly-modulated-control-moments. Let’s arrest them for their misdeeds and throw them all in jail.

  35. Dave January 9, 2017 at 10:32 pm #

    Reading the comments, I’m appalled that so few grasp the real problem here. The people who created and passed this legislation have no understanding of the nature of the pre-mature brain and its effect on behavior. This is real and well known brain science, not an untested theory. Kids are not adults, and can’t think like adults.

    Children and adolescents’ brains are “wired” in such a way that they live “in the moment” pretty much all the time. It’s why kids are willing to take risks that an adult would not consider. While they may understand intellectually that a certain behavior is wrong or dangerous and risks punishment or injury, they are unable to comprehend the real consequences, especially in the heat of the moment.

    This is the reason we created a juvenile justice system in the first place, and why we use age appropriate education and punishment within the family and at (most) schools. The idea that fear of a felony conviction is going to stop school-aged kids from fighting when emotions run high (and kids feel emotions far stronger than adults do) is utter nonsense. It’s nothing more than a tool for funneling “undesirable” kids into prison.

    The human brain does not fully mature until the mid-twenties. Insurance companies have known this for nearly a century. They know that risk taking (and resulting car crashes) falls off dramatically in the mid-twenties. It’s clearly seen in the actuarial tables. Once the brain matures, risky behavior diminishes.

    The real problem is poorly educated legislators, prosecutors, teachers, administrator, and police.

  36. Jessica January 9, 2017 at 11:16 pm #

    Kimberly
    That story is amazing, and incredibly typical of kids.

  37. JTW January 10, 2017 at 1:16 am #

    “The juvinile courts need to disregard this law.”

    No doubt there are mandatory penalties involved.

    “I’m sure this will be totally evenly applied to both white and black children.”

    Blacks are by definition victims of white oppression, so they can’t be guilty.

    “I’ve seen some school fights that would (and should) qualify as felonies.”

    Yes, but not all or even most. It’s exceedingly rare and should be left to the discretion of the people involved, NOT a mandatory blanket regulation that automatically puts a 9 year old in prison for 5 years for punching his nemesis in the face who’s been bullying him for the last 4 years with no letup or punishment, which all too often happens.

  38. James Pollock January 10, 2017 at 1:56 am #

    “Yes, but not all or even most. It’s exceedingly rare and should be left to the discretion of the people involved, NOT a mandatory blanket regulation that automatically puts a 9 year old in prison for 5 years for punching his nemesis in the face who’s been bullying him for the last 4 years with no letup or punishment, which all too often happens”

    When you’re done hyperventilating and want to learn how it’s going to work in the real world, go ahead and say so.
    Hint: Nobody, not even the densest of out-of-touch school administrators, is trying to put nine-year-olds in prison for 5 years.
    Go here (the link was offered once before already).
    http://reason.com/blog/2016/12/30/missouri-law-school-fights-felonies
    Read what it says. Or, if that’s just too much trouble, just read the headline, which I’ll paste in here for your convenience:”Will a New Missouri Law Turn Schoolyard Fights Into Felonies? Probably Not.” Here’s a bit from the middle of the article… “a closer comparison of the new Missouri law with current state law reveals little will change in how school violence is prosecuted. In fact, it may actually be the case that school fights will be less likely to be prosecuted as felonies than they were before.”

    OK, but that’s just one opinion, right? Nope.
    http://www.stlamerican.com/news/columnists/guest_columnists/new-laws-will-not-increase-prosecutions-for-school-fights/article_a32c9394-cea1-11e6-9fdb-1f85dacbefe4.html
    (headline: New laws will not increase prosecutions for school fights)
    Quotation from this article:
    “I spoke with Sgt. Jon Broom with the Sikeston Department of Public Safety. He supervises School Resource Officers. He said the law revisions won’t change how kids are treated. ”
    Yes, that’s the exact SAME Sgt Jon Broom quoted by Lenore. But THAT quote doesn’t get people all excited, does it?

    Remember the article here just a few days ago about how come the local TV stations go all overboard and misreport weather events? Guess what… they’re not very good at reporting legal issues, either. In fact, the types of stories local TV news is actually good at covering is… things that are on fire. Sometimes traffic, although usually “slow in all the usual places” is an accurate description, so it’s not difficult to get that one right.

    Hey, everyone, guess what! Under the PREVIOUS Missouri law, the one that’s been in effect for quite some time now, any assault that occurred on school property was… wait for it… a felony.

  39. Paul Lowther January 10, 2017 at 7:50 am #

    Only in America. Thank God the rest of the world is sane.

  40. jimc5499 January 10, 2017 at 8:43 am #

    Paul,
    You don’t get out much do you? “The rest of the world is sane.” Really?

  41. Jessica January 10, 2017 at 10:02 am #

    Paul
    Uh yes– I agree with the above response to your comment. I lived in japan and in South Africa and I can assure you, they are not “sane.” They don’t have this exact, particular problem.

  42. Shawna January 10, 2017 at 12:36 pm #

    This is a complicated situation. On one hand I understand this law going into effect for the kids who constantly pick on other kids. But I was taught and I teach my children now that they are never to start a fight or be a bully to someone else. But if a bully is pushing them or punching them, then I expect them to stick up for themselves. “Don’t start a fight but they better finish it! “

  43. Gina January 10, 2017 at 2:46 pm #

    JND: This is the second time (that I’ve seen) that you have responded to debate and discourse with a simple statement designed to incite people against police officers. You have nothing constructive to say and add nothing to the discussion. Please refrain.

  44. elizabeth January 10, 2017 at 7:24 pm #

    @SanityAnyone i read the unwind series. Had nightmares. Im 21 years old.

  45. CrazyCatLady January 10, 2017 at 8:26 pm #

    A lot of schools now have preschoolers who are 4 and even 3 years of age. 3. If the school resource officer is walking past and sees a 3 year old hit another kid, that is a felony? And if they hit again in that year they go to juvie until they are 7? And have it on their record, following them as the parents try to get housing and have to admit that their 7 year old has a felony?

    And what about kids who are on an individualized education plan? Kids on the spectrum can often get angry and react with physical force. They cannot even name the frustration that they feel….and they also are under the same rules? For their disability?

  46. James Pollock January 10, 2017 at 10:09 pm #

    “A lot of schools now have preschoolers who are 4 and even 3 years of age. 3. If the school resource officer is walking past”

    If your kid’s preschool has a resource officer assigned to it, you have other problems to resolve before worrying about the exact wording of the third-degree assault statute.

  47. Diane January 10, 2017 at 11:35 pm #

    @James Pollock, a lot of public elementary schools in my area have preschool programs. They are not optimal programs in my opinion because they are treated as just another grade in the school. But sometimes they are the best option a parent may have.

  48. John S January 10, 2017 at 11:59 pm #

    For what they’re worth, a couple of observations, one from reminiscences.

    Like it or not, I was/am the product of private schools, K-12. While in Grades 1-8, fighting got “rewarded” with immediate disciplinary action, and suspension if and when deemed necessary. Yes, the disciplinary action often meant corporal punishment. But the teachers realized even several decades ago it would be unreal to try to have the school grounds in a “vacuum”; the real world was still out there!

    At my high school (a policy still current there) fighting was permitted, BUT ONLY when the adversaries donned boxing gloves and a coach or other faculty member served as a referee. Fighting under any other circumstances would lead to an automatic, “un-reversible” suspension, and in rare instances immediate expulsion. The thinking was to give both parties in a fight a proverbially more equal, more level playing field, which would remove the element of control from the usual aggressors. I know this policy worked; and the last time I checked, this policy STILL works.

    A few years ago, I read a report about a set of parents in Kentucky who tried in many ways to stop a classmate from bullying their first- or second-grade daughter. (The bully was the same age as this child, and I believe the same gender.) Only when, with legal advice, the parents made it clear what they were prepared to do if the bullying continued, did it finally stop. The parents hand-delivered to all relevant school personnel. the school board, and the superintendent of schools a letter. The letter stated in no uncertain terms that their daughter, a tae-kwon-do student–and NOT a beginner!–would be OK’d by the parents to use “disproportionate force” against the bully. The school system would be held responsible for all injuries, medical costs, etc., and all the relevant personnel would be liable to be sued for negligence, in that they did nothing to effectively stop the bullying in the first place.

    I know of a man in this state who got into serious trouble with some police-linked officials; he kept cupping his hand to one ear in order to hear what they were saying. (Only later did he get much-needed hearing aids.) But these government employees deemed his actions “threatening”–why, I still do not know!–and the key result was administratively determined, that he was a “sexually dangerous person”.

    I can’t help but remember some of the plot devices in Huxley’s Brave New World, in which there is supposed to be uniformity in everything, and from and with everyone. A “cookie-cutter” mentality prevails, along with a “one size fits all” outlook. What’s being attempted in Sikeston, and perhaps thought about elsewhere, goes against plain and simple reality.

  49. CrazyCatLady January 11, 2017 at 12:13 am #

    James Pollock “If your kid’s preschool has a resource officer assigned to it, you have other problems to resolve before worrying about the exact wording of the third-degree assault statute.”

    In my district, most of the preschools are in elementary schools. However, in other districts, they put them where they have room. Sometimes that is on a Middle or High School campus, which are much more likely to have an officer assigned. And in many districts, the officers cover several schools, and that might include an elementary school near a middle or high school.

  50. James Pollock January 11, 2017 at 1:02 am #

    ” What’s being attempted in Sikeston, and perhaps thought about elsewhere, goes against plain and simple reality.”

    Really? What IS being attempted in Sikeston? (A reminder: “I spoke with Sgt. Jon Broom with the Sikeston Department of Public Safety. He supervises School Resource Officers. He said the law revisions won’t change how kids are treated. ”)

  51. James Pollock January 11, 2017 at 1:11 am #

    “@James Pollock, a lot of public elementary schools in my area have preschool programs. They are not optimal programs in my opinion because they are treated as just another grade in the school. But sometimes they are the best option a parent may have.”

    And if that building has so much crime in it that it’s worthwhile to post a sworn police officer in it full-time, then that fact would ALSO be a good reason to consider it sub-optimal, wouldn’t you say? You’d have REAL concerns that would be much, much better occupations of your time than hyperventilating over the miscommunication of information like this.

    Seriously… on the one hand, you have the very real problem that a school district put out information that isn’t even vaguely accurate. That’s bad. On the other hand, you also have the very real problem that a lot of people were unable to detect that the information they were being presented is not even vaguely accurate. That’s REALLY bad..

  52. MG January 11, 2017 at 1:32 am #

    In VA, we are trying to stop this trend.

    http://www.dailypress.com/news/politics/dp-nws-kids-crime-20170110-story.html

    In case it’s behind a paywall, legislation is being introduced to require principals to consider all available discipline options before calling the police for minor school incidents.

  53. BL January 11, 2017 at 4:49 am #

    @James Pollock
    “And if that building has so much crime in it that it’s worthwhile to post a sworn police officer in it full-time”

    My former high school just got its first “resource officer”. Because there’s so much crime? No, because they get money from the state to do so. That was the only reason given in the newspaper article about it, and my own sources (i.e., people I know who work in the school) can see no other reason, either.

  54. James Pollock January 11, 2017 at 8:18 am #

    “My former high school just got its first “resource officer”. Because there’s so much crime? No, because they get money from the state to do so.”

    If your local police are so incompetent that they don’t assign cops to be where the crime is, that would ALSO be sub-optimal, and a better topic of concern for local residents.
    AND you still have the whole “the TV news reported this as something important when it actually isn’t” thing, and the “people believed this was something important when it actually isn’t” as more serious problems, too.

  55. Suzanne January 11, 2017 at 8:43 am #

    Yes, kids are so good at thinking about and realizing the long term consequences of their actions. Good grief. Where are they going to house all of the children who will no go to kiddie jail? This is ridiculous, if you live in Missouri you might consider moving to another state.

  56. BL January 11, 2017 at 9:12 am #

    @James Pollock
    “If your local police are so incompetent that they don’t assign cops to be where the crime is”

    “Where the crime is” would be “out of their jurisdiction”. We don’t have a lot of crime locally.

    And the new “school resource officer” is a retired cop anyway.

  57. Mya Greene January 12, 2017 at 3:06 am #

    I am not sure if I agree with how the justice system punishes people in general. It seems that the “correctional facilities” rarely, if at all, “correct” behavior, and make it very difficult to re-integrate into society. Who does it really serve? I’d say it is probably more important to figure out the different reasons people want to start fist fights, and, for repeat offenders, intervene with psychological treatment, and perhaps even a little more supervision of the offender as they bring the self control to a more average level in order to protect others. For those for whom it is likely to be a once-in-a lifetime event, I think there are certainly much more effective ways than prison to teach such a person to use their words to express their anger. I could imagine a law such as this putting a damper on social mobility.

  58. AndreL January 12, 2017 at 6:44 am #

    I don’t agree with the proposed measure in regard to younger kids (physically violence perpetrated by older teens except in immediate self-defense against aggression should entail more consequences, including loss of potential public financial aid to attend college), and I think jailing everybody is not a solution.

    However, I do think physically aggressive kids past age 8-10 (at most) should be removed from regular schools, and/or be put in heavily supervised program, where they receive treatment, and from where they cannot hurt other kids who already developed and mastered basic self-control.

  59. Puzzled January 14, 2017 at 1:50 am #

    There are real problems out there, and the school to prison pipeline is one of them. However, this law is not one of them, so far as I know. It happens I live in Missouri – and yes, our new all-Republican government is going to push a lot of bad things our way. I also go to school in Missouri. As part of our intersession, a group from the St. Louis Public Defenders office, juvenile division, came to speak to us about the school to prison pipeline. This law came up, and their view was that there was way too much outrage and attention being focused on it.

    The OP here says that students who get into fights are currently charged with a misdemeanor. This is partially true – it’s true in that, in the vast majority of cases, police and prosecutors simply will not charge a kid who gets into a fight with a felony – unless they, say, grab a huge metal wrench and bash another kid in the back of the head with it (happened in my high school). But they could be prior to this change – assault on school property is a felony. We simply rely on some measure of discretion. With the change, there’s not a special category of felony assault for schools – but the same exact discretionary choice remains.

    I see the comments acknowledging this and saying, yes, but they should have fixed it so that kids fighting can never be a felony. Should they? We’re against zero tolerance, but I’m not sure 100% tolerance is that much better. As I mentioned, when I was in high school, one kid went to the shop classroom, got a very large metal wrench, ran to the cafeteria, and bashed another kid in the back of the head. The only reason the attack stopped was that a wrestling coach (with Olympic background) was on cafeteria duty and dragged the youngster from the room, took him outside, and kept him in a control hold until police arrived. Felony? I think so. Kids do bad things, especially the sorts of kids who are, for all biological purposes, adults. Think carefully about the consequences of saying no school fight can never be a felony.

    So, we end up relying on judgment. Now, in Missouri, I don’t always have perfect faith in that judgment. I will say, though, that every prosecutor I have met, city or county, has been focused on problem-solving approaches, talks about diversion wherever possible, and seeks where appropriate to use the system to get help, not just to punish. If I have to trust someone to make that call, I trust them more than distant legislators who don’t have to face the problems regularly.

  60. Neil Strickland January 15, 2017 at 2:04 pm #

    I’ve met some very intelligent children who know that fighting does not solve any problems. Hoewever, imagine having a criminal record because you got into a fight on the playground when you were eight years old. Now imagine that eight year old as an adult graduating from university, community college or a technical college. Finally, imagine that adult not being able to find a job anywhere in any field because of that criminal record! That’s what this will ultimately lead to.

    The idea of making fighting in a playground a criminal offence is quite bizarre!

    Somewhat loosely connected to all this is why aren’t professional athletes who cause bodily harm to others treated as criminals?